Government using new Ofsted framework to further their own political agenda at the cost of branding schools "inadequate".

(71 Posts)
feelokaboutit Wed 09-Jan-13 11:22:27

Have just come back home angry and upset after a meeting at my dcs' school. In 2008, under the old Ofsted framework, our school was "good". They got the same judgement at the interim assessment last year and so did not have a full inspection. We have now just (in November 2012) been inspected again under the new framework and are "inadequate", a whole 2 points below our previous grade. The improvements which need to be made are in years 3, 4 and 5 in teaching, pupil progress and something else (can't remember blush). The head was very honest about this and talked about the measures which will be taken.

Suddenly, tagged on to the back end of this meeting we (lots of parents attended since we got the report yesterday) were told that before the judgement had even been confirmed, the Department of Education had contacted the school with proposals to become an academy angryangry.

It seems that the new draconian Ofsted inspections are designed to find schools "inadequate" so that the Conservative agenda of dismantling the education system can be rushed through. It is glaringly obvious. Our school might (and does) require improvement in some areas but is good in lots of other areas and certainly does not deserve to be branded "inadequate" overall.

Is it the case that a school can only be forced into academy status if you are found inadequate? What I find offensive is how obvious the political agenda is. In the meantime, the human cost of being branded as "inadequate" in terms of staff morale, parent confidence and overall happiness of the children at school, is found to be of no consequence angry.

Someone at the meeting said that by 2015, all schools in the country will probably be academies. Whether or not this is true, if that is the governments top agenda, can they be less underhand about it instead of making us go through horrible Ofsted judgements to then force us into becoming academies.

That the school has been found to need improvement in some areas is a good thing and will provide incentive for staff to fix the problems. What is sickening is the obvious manipulation of facts to suit the government sad.

If anybody has any positive stories of schools becoming academies then I'd be happy to hear them!

PrimaryParent Thu 07-Feb-13 21:13:53

Basically Ofsted have massively shifted the goalposts but without any clear explanation to us the parents!

I have a friend who is head at a school in North London and they got Outstanding last time but she says on new set up they would get Good. To the parents it will look like school is getting worse but its not, its still great.

I am all for reviewing and giving us information about schools but don't make things look worse just for the sake of making us all freak out. It will mean more people doing daft things like tricking their way into the few outstanding schools and just create unnecessary panic - as if choosing a school for your 'babies' isnt stressful enough!! - Thanks Ofsted.

sleepylampost Wed 30-Jan-13 22:43:00

The DfE actually told the governors at Roke Primary that it was not in their interests to tell the staff and parents! They were coerced into keeping quiet until the sponsor was announced. Check out this website www.saveroke.co.uk

cory Wed 30-Jan-13 21:54:32

Abitwobblynow Sat 12-Jan-13 20:37:27
"'I disagree totally with your point about admissions. Why does a school need to control it's own admissions? The fact that the borough takes care of that makes sure that it is not linked to the school wanting to bump up its results by making sure it only takes on pupils of a certain type. I think this is morally wrong and not why most of us signed up to state school.'

And you have been fed a load of brainwashed baloney. OF COURSE schools need to be in charge of their own admissions! They also need to be in charge of their own expulsions, too."

And who forces the school to take a child with known health problems, who will make them look bad in the league tables, or a child who will need support to get to the classroom, but does not attract SN funding?

"Are you getting the link between performance and results? The people who pay, drive the process. In Sweden, parents pay INDEPENDENT schools which vouchers given by the state. But they are the ones the school looks to for funding."

It's funny that the new Swedish system is always held up to be such a paragon: yet since it was introduced Sweden has dropped down international league tables and I have yet to find one Swedish parent, teacher or ex-teacher who does not think the change has been for the worse.

sleepylampost Wed 30-Jan-13 20:58:53

DfE tactics are getting even more heavy handed. www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/jan/28/dfe-dictate-academy-status-primary?INTCMP=SRCH
When is this craziness going to stop?

feelokaboutit Sat 12-Jan-13 23:39:25

I don't think academies will have the same amount of funding as Independent schools. They might be more like them in terms of attitude and freedom from the curriculum, but they will not ultimately have access to the same money or be able to have such small classes.
abitwobbly I am finding some of your comments a little harsh.
And yes I would come back in 5 years time to report a different finding, I would be more than happy to and I have already said that.
I agree that state schools do not have a massive culture of achievement, or at least the one my kids go to doesn't, and it would be nice to see this change. I think the answer lies in modernising, and improving what we have (as well as more funding, maybe a pipedream in the present climate), not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
It is true that smaller classes would be a dream come true and would automatically give parents more of a voice regarding their child as the teacher would have more time / energy. Can't this be aimed for within the state system, or at least when we start to see the end of the recession (hopefully). Same for the curriculum, yes staff have hours of paperwork which detract from their experience of actual teaching - why do we need to get rid of the state system to fix this?
More interesting reading:
www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2011/06/the-myths-of-academy-conversion/

Lilithmoon Sat 12-Jan-13 23:05:55

Abitwobblynow I am not continuing this conversation because you don't seem to reading what I have written, you have not answered my questions and you have completely contradicted yourself.

echt Sat 12-Jan-13 22:48:23

Not quite sure why the teaching unions are getting a thrashing by wobbly. Is this reference to the five years it took to get rid of a crap teacher? The unions go for due process. They do not pick their cases to support, and any member is entitled to representation.

What I have seen, time and again, are inadequate staff inadequately managed in schools, who then have a legitimate grievance about misapplied procedures. They go to the union, who defend them on procedure, as they should. Naughty unions.

thesnootyfox Sat 12-Jan-13 22:27:58

I think this is quite concerning. Our local senior school which was previously "improving" is now on a notice to improve. Lots of positive changes have taken place and it's GCSE results are well above the national average and yet it is not rated by OFSTED at all.

My niece attends an "outstanding" academy primary school. Parents are not happy, my sister is looking around elsewhere for somewhere more suitable, bullying brushed under the carpet etc and yet they have been another "Outstanding" grading. Everyone is at a complete loss as to how they have reached this decision, lots of the parents were expecting an "inadequate" grading.

YorkshireDeb Sat 12-Jan-13 22:13:28

. . . And still no response to my question about what you do to prove care levels are so much higher in independent schools. Can we deduce from this you have no actual evidence to back up this point? X

Abitwobblynow Sat 12-Jan-13 21:49:40

argh! posted to soon [and the two bodies that stand in the way are Local Education Authorities and teachers unions]

Abitwobblynow Sat 12-Jan-13 21:48:12

Let me be clear: I would like independent schools to be completely unnecessary.

But I understand why they work, why the discipline, work ethos and risking failure culture they have gives children there such a clear advantage, which is why people are prepared to pay those eye watering sums.

I just think every child in Britain should be given those advantages, that is all.

Abitwobblynow Sat 12-Jan-13 21:26:52

Lilith: independent schools have those budgets because the parents (note, this is a very very important concept) PAY for those budgets. They INVEST in their children's education.
Result: they take it very, very, very, very seriously. A school and teacher has to PERFORM at the highest level and with the utmost dedication because they will be SWIFTLY SACKED if they do not. Teachers tell parents with great honesty how their children really are. There are no patronising 'he is doing fine'. It is 'your son is able but idle [discussion ensues on what pressure to apply and it is dual] or your daughter is not academic and do not have high expectations lets look at photography etc. or your child has a learning disability [discuss] and this is the teacher whose EXTRA LESSONS you will be liaising with and this is the programme and these are the EXTRA HOURS your child will be required to do.

Are you getting the link between performance and results? The people who pay, drive the process. In Sweden, parents pay INDEPENDENT schools which vouchers given by the state. But they are the ones the school looks to for funding.

At the moment, in state schools, the LEAs pay. Guess who the school turns their back on (the parents and the children) and guess who they pay attention to? It is complete human nature.
And a teacher can be beyond crap, and never get sacked (it took FIVE years for a teacher to leave our school, unhappy parents didn't begin to come into it, a determined governing body full of professionals enforced it. and it took FIVE YEARS).

Don't kid yourself for a second Lilith that it is 'money' and 'privilege'. It isn't. I used to go around my school haranguing parents of able children to write the grammar test. So I broke several right-on heresies: 1. your child is able. 2. your child deserves the best. 3. you must risk failure and try. 'Really? Do you think so? Dare we? Parents had to be given permission and encouragement to have aspirations! Ridiculous. No wonder private school kids sweep the boards (and my bright state children were very bright). The whole state ethos is a shocking waste of talent and the future of our country and the sooner LEAs and teachers unions are smashed out of their complacency the better.

YorkshireDeb Sat 12-Jan-13 21:20:19

Abitwobblyrightnow you claim to be angry alongside me & I therefore think you completely missed my point. The thing that made me so angry was your highly offensive comment: "State school teachers spout loads about how much they care, but they don't. They do not look after and get involved in a child the way they do in private schools." I assume you realised I am a teacher in a state school? I'm very interested to hear what you actually do that's so much above and beyond what I do for my pupils, to prove the point that you care so much more than I do. x

Lilithmoon Sat 12-Jan-13 20:53:26

Abitwobblynow did you mean to be so patronising?
Are you saying independent schools are not highly selective, that they don't have ginormous budgets? Are you denying these variables have an effect on outcome?
I don't doubt independent schools are highly advantageous to many of the children that attend but perhaps you could explain why they also fail some children if they are so perfect?

Abitwobblynow Sat 12-Jan-13 20:37:27

'I disagree totally with your point about admissions. Why does a school need to control it's own admissions? The fact that the borough takes care of that makes sure that it is not linked to the school wanting to bump up its results by making sure it only takes on pupils of a certain type. I think this is morally wrong and not why most of us signed up to state school.'

And you have been fed a load of brainwashed baloney. OF COURSE schools need to be in charge of their own admissions! They also need to be in charge of their own expulsions, too.

State school teachers are the only professionals I know, who are told what to do by a centralised state body as though they are brainless morons, who are literally NOT ALLOWED to apply their own experience and expertise. Example: the department of education is pushing phonics? They HAVE to teach reading using phonics. And write reams and reams of paper describing (to the central control system) their lesson plans as to how they are 'implementing' 'the plan'. Reality: as ever teacher knows, children learn to read using a mixture of systems: phonics, decoding, looking at the picture, looking at the word shape.

FFS! WHO supports this state control? You have to be insane. Teachers MUST be let go, be the ultimate in charge of the whole school, be a team with parents, be the final say. Accountants, solicitors, no other professional is treated the way teachers are.

YorkshireDeb I am angry right along with you! "Independence in private schools means the freedom to teach a curriculum you believe in, to push children in areas like sport (not just maths & English), to help children discover & develop their talents. Doing this in a state school is bloody hard work, I can tell you, because I'd they don't meet government expectations in maths & English we're beaten round the head with it." ... is my EXACT point.

Lilith "Independent schools do well because they are highly selective and have ginormous budgets." you go on believing that if it makes you feel better.

I have experience of both state and private schools. Fact: private school children are worked half to death, in demands that state school children never get a whiff of. As a result, they learn some life lessons, about setting goals, striving towards them, taking risks, not fearing failure, what you put in is what you get out - and whaddayaknow, it results in success. Lilith will call that 'privilege', of course. The way state schools LET DOWN CHILDREN I thought would give me a stroke, and I have thought long and hard on the reasons why (hamstrung teachers, a disconnect between funding and results) and the solution. Which is independence from centralised control, bullshit progressive ideology ['the school wanting to bump up its results by making sure it only takes on pupils of a certain type. I think this is morally wrong and not why most of us signed up to state school.'] and overly powerful trades unions. They are shrieking about academies precisely because they signal the end of the control!

I do really hope that the starter of this thread has the guts to return in 5 years time and outline how and why her school has improved. And that her assumptions were wrong and what she feared is no way like the truth.

2013go Fri 11-Jan-13 23:03:29

A further flaw abitwobblynow is the argument about who runs schools- why would others except the LEA running schools be any better. I don't think this argument has been proved by taking trains away from British Rail, for example.
No one would argue that schools can't do better, and no one I know in any school ever- teachers, managers, governors, LEA advisors etc has ever spent their working day doing anything other than trying to raise standards and help students learn. The managers at my school, and many of the teachers, are there until 6,7,8 at night doing exactly that, then going home and doing more.
A number of schools which have become academies were already improving and moving forward, and many that have stayed in LEA control have improved more steadily than neighbouring academies.
The question is, does the structure of the education system need to change to a mixed, semi privatised system to improve results, and the answer to that question is no.
The money poured into academies and free schools, to consultancy firms, to making decent and hardworking LEA staff redundant- it's criminal- that money could have been far, far better spent with the system intact.

Lilithmoon Fri 11-Jan-13 22:47:02

Abitwobblynow your argument is completely flawed.
Independent schools do well because they are highly selective and have ginormous budgets.

feelokaboutit Fri 11-Jan-13 12:23:08
feelokaboutit Fri 11-Jan-13 12:16:53

Yes, it seems naive of the government to think that the magic "academy" pill will solve all problems. Naive and somewhat complacent because it bypasses the real effort that it will take to improve the standards of our education system generally at school, local and national level. "Having problems?" they say. "Here you are, take this academy pill (that we are forcing down your throat) and all will be well". It feels a little like being zapped by the aliens angry.
Thank you YorkshireDeb! Hercule, I feel your pain!

noblegiraffe Fri 11-Jan-13 11:50:52

Independent schools do well because they have a nice intake of kids whose parents care enough about education to pay for it, and who can be booted out easily if they disrupt the learning of others.

Payment by results is a bad idea. There are so many factors that go into results that are beyond a teacher's control. It'd be like paying someone in the private sector based on the success of a project that they took over for the last 2 years out of 16 and which they only work on for a handful of hours a week. In a setted subject, anyone who got given the bottom set would be pretty much doomed to failure from the start.

My school, as I mentioned before, was forced to become an academy due to drastic budget cuts. We now have larger class sizes, fewer TAs, offer fewer subjects at sixth form and teachers have to teach more lessons. Morale is pretty low. The financial situation might be even worse were we not an academy but I can definitely say that the academy we are now is not better than the school we were.

SugarplumMary Fri 11-Jan-13 11:36:49

My DC primary dropped from good last Ofsted - but they were not forced to become an Academy. The drop was odd as parents and DC are happy there and do much better than expected given intake.

The secondary’s in the area have been force - the one massively improving was told it wasn't improving fast enough so was forced to become one despite them not being keen - it’s still improving. The failing one was forced to become an Academy - results still dire, head and teachers still on short turn around and behaviour still an issue - parents try and avoid like the plague but obviously not all can.

Hercule Fri 11-Jan-13 11:19:16

This is exactly what is happening to our school at the moment.

As a governor I have been fully involved in the process and based on all the evidence would have expected a requires improvement grading, this would have accurately affected the situation in our school. We do have some weaknesses, however we have a new Head (started Sept), very experienced with an outstanding reputation, who has already implemented significant changes, developed a comprehensive development plan and shows clear and unequivocal capacity to vastly improve the school in a very short space of time. In their inspection Ofsted have totally ignored all of this and done what is essentially a hatchet job returning an inadequate grade, purely to force us into academisation.

I only hope this does not result in intrusive micro-management of our lovely, passionate and talented new Head as I fear she could well decide to take early retirement rather than suffer the process. In which case the school will have lost the one driving factor contributing to its future success. How can that possibly be beneficial for the children at the school?

YorkshireDeb Fri 11-Jan-13 11:16:16

And I still think you are a fabulously supportive parent. thanks x

feelokaboutit Fri 11-Jan-13 11:06:50

Also, our school possibly becoming an academy will not mean a reduction in class sizes and it is this that differentiates private from state education the most I think. Of course it is easy to focus on every child more deeply if you are teaching a class of 16 instead of 30.

I still think the egalitarian nature of our school, the camaraderie and the non-rarefied atmosphere is great.

YorkshireDeb Fri 11-Jan-13 10:58:44

So angry right now! abitwobblynow how dare you say that teachers in state schools do not care about the children they teach! For some of the children at my school the teachers are the only adults in their life that do bloody care! You're right about the difference between state & private education being independence. Independence in private schools means the freedom to teach a curriculum you believe in, to push children in areas like sport (not just maths & English), to help children discover & develop their talents. Doing this in a state school is bloody hard work, I can tell you, because I'd they don't meet government expectations in maths & English we're beaten round the head with it.

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